--Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
People do not change, they are merely revealed.
--Anne Enright, The Gathering
“Atticus, he was real nice."
"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
--Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
Phillip is the Paul McCartney of our family: better-looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead.
--Jonathan Tropper, This Is Where I Leave You
Just let them sit in the goddam sun. But the world won't let them because there's nothing more dangerous than letting old farts sit in the sun. They might be thinking. Same thing with kids. Keep 'em busy or they might start thinking.
--Frank McCourt, Teacher Man
The Fourth Elegy
O trees of life, oh when winterly?
We are not unified. Are not like the migratory
birds agreed. Overtaken and late,
we suddenly force ourselves on winds
and descend on indifferent ponds.
Of bloom and shrivel are we together aware.
And somewhere lions still walk and know,
as long as they are splendid, of no powerlessness.
We however, when we intend the One, completely,
already feel the other’s strain. Enmity
is our closest relative. Do not lovers
ever knock at edges, the one in the other,
that promised wideness, hunt and home?
For just one moment’s imprint
a ground of contrariety is prepared, painfully,
that we may see it; for one is very clear
with us. We know not the contour
of feeling, only what forms it from without.
Who has not sat anxious before the curtains of his heart?
They parted: the scenery was parting.
Easy to understand. The well known garden,
and quietly swayed: only then the dancer appeared.
Not him. Enough! And however lightly he foots it,
he wears a costume and will be a citizen
and enter his flat through the kitchen.
I will not have these half-filled masks,
rather the doll. That is full. I shall
bear the body and the wire and its
face made of appearance. Here. I am ready.
Even if the lights go out, am told:
That’s it – even if from the stage
emptiness drifts in with grey draught of air,
even if none of my silent forebears
sits by me here any longer, no woman, not even
the boy with the brown squinting eye:
yet shall I remain. There is always the watching.
Am I not right? You whose life around me tasted
so bitter, tasting mine, father,
the first turbid infusion of my Must,
tasting again and again as I grew,
and busy with the after-taste of such a strange future,
you weighed my misty gaze upwards, –
you, my father, who since your death, often
feel fear within me within my hope ,
and give up the equanimity the dead feel, realms
of equanimity, for my bit of fate,
am I not right? And you, am I not right,
who loved me for the small beginning
of love for you I always digressed from
because the space in your faces,
even while I loved it, segued into cosmic space
in which you no longer were … When I feel like
waiting before the puppet stage, no,
watching so completely that, to balance my gaze
in the end, an angel must be added
as a player who jerks up the stuffed bodies.
Angel and puppet: then, finally, a play.
Then will come together what we are always
sundering by simply being. Then only shall arise
from our seasons the environs
of complete transformation. Then over and above us
the angel shall play. See, the dying,
should they not suspect how full of pretext
all we achieve here is? Everything
is not itself. Oh, hours of childhood
when behind the figures there was more
than past and before us not the future.
Of course we grew, and sometimes we rushed
to soon become big, half for the benefit of those
who no longer had anything but being big.
And were in our solitary path
preoccupied with the lasting and stood there
in the gap between world and toy,
at a place that since the beginning
had been founded for a pure event.
Who shall show a child just as it is? Who shall place
it within its constellation and the measure of distance
in its hand? Who shall make a child’s death
from grey bread that shall become hard, – or leave it
inside its round mouth like the pip
of a beautiful apple?…. Murderers are
easily understood. But this: death
the whole of death, to so gently contain it
even before life and not be angry,
--Rainer Maria Rilke